China auto sales hit 1.57 million in May 2012

A total of 1.57 million automobiles were manufactured in China last month, China Business News reported today. The figure, which comes from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, is 4.66 percent lower than April and 16.9 percent higher than last May.

Automobile sales, meanwhile, totaled 1.61 million units, decreasing 1.06 percent from April and growing 15.97 percent from last May.
May production and sales numbers for passenger automobiles were 1.27 million units and 1.28 million units, respectively.

The amount manufactured was 2.76 percent lower than the previous month, while the amount sold was 0.46 percent higher. Both figures represented positive year-on-year growth of slightly over 21 percent. 6.33 million passenger automobiles have been sold in the five month period from January to May.

Domestic own brand manufacturers sold 516,400 passenger automobiles in May. Their cumulative market share fell another 0.47 percent in April to 40.28 percent, a whole 3.28 percent less than last May. By comparison, German, Japanese, US, South Korean and French manufacturers sold 245,100, 238,800, 146,000, 100,400 and 35,200 vehicles. Their respective market shares were 19.12 percent, 18.63 percent, 11.39 percent, 7.83 percent and 2.75 percent.

US manufacturers' performance last month was particularly noteworthy, with their market share increasing a full 0.87 percent.
Furthermore, Chinese automobile exports broke the 100,000 unit barrier for the first time in May.

According to CAAM statistics, China exported a total of 103,400 vehicles last month, 18.2 percent more than the previous month and 43.4 percent more than last May. A total of 382,500 vehicles have been exported from January to May, with Algeria, Russia, Chile, Iraq and Iran being top buyers.

this report from

Lotus acquisition by SAIC and Youngman denied

British sports car manufacturer Lotus Cars has been through a tumultuous time as of late. Only last week, CEO Dany Bahar was relieved of his position by new parent company DRB-Hicom, which appointed one of its executives, Aslam Farikullah, to take his place. At the same time, rumors began circulating of Chinese enterprises SAIC and Youngman Lotus preparing to purchase the manufacturer. However, in a report appearing on International Finance News today, Lotus officially denied such rumors.

"We have not received any such information," Lotus China's public relations office responded when asked about the rumors. The office added that the speculations are baseless. SAIC Group, Youngman Automobile and DRB-Hicom all have yet to officially comment on the matter.

Lotus has been in dire financial straits as of late. All sorts of rumors, including reports that the manufacturer is preparing to abandon its Formula One program, have been spreading throughout the media. Malaysian automobile manufacturer Proton sold its 42.7 percent stake in Lotus to DBR-Hicom earlier this year. However, due to the manufacturer's poor sales, DRB-Hicom saw its stock price on Bursa Malaysia drop heavily.
This report from

New Seat Toledo leaks on to web

The guys over at have leaked these pictures of the new 2012 model year Seat Toledo on to the internet.

New Briliance concept car caught before unveiling

Brilliance, the Chinese car maker with close links to BMW (the two operate a joint venture that produces 3- and 5-series models for the domestic Chinese market), is working on a new concept car.

Caught here for the first time the new five door hatchback/crossover has reportedly been styled by ex-Pininfarina designer Dimitri Vicedomin who now heads up design operations at Brilliance. Hands up those who see cues from the Lancia Delta, Alfa Romeo Giulietta,Alfa Romeo Brera and Alfa Romeo Kamal concept in the new Chinese car's lines . . .

We figure the new Brilliance concept is a planned replacement for the Splendor/FRV/FSV line. But with a firm tongue in cheek we're already calling it the Alfa Romeo Delta here at 

Facelifted 2013 model year Kia Sorento without disguise

As the saying goes, you can run but you can't hide. Here's Kia's facelifted Sorento lurking in China. Seen here for the first time without diguise is the big Korean SUV's reworked front and rear end styling, including its new head- and tail lamp treatment.  

Hongqi 77X gets an internet airing

Hongqi, an upmarket brand of China's First Automobile Works, is set to launch a third model - the 77X. Revealed here for the first time, it is planned to slot into the Hongqi line-up between the 77H and 77L. Details remain scarce but whispers out of FAW suggest the 77X is based on underpinnings provided by the Volkswagen Group; most likely those of the superceded Audi A6.

Volvo XC40 hits the internet

This long range picture of Volvo's upcoming XC40 has made its way onto various internet sites over the weekend. Expect to see the toughened up V40, complete with raised ride height and four wheel drive, in all its production glory at the Paris auto show in September.

Rumour mill: Lancia Fulvia on the way back?

News that Alfa Romeo parent company Fiat has done a deal with Mazda that will finally see a return of the iconic Spider based on the same rear wheel drive underpinnings as the fourth-generation MX-5 (or Miata as it is known in certain parts of the world) has led to whispers of a possible return of sister company Lancia's equally legendary Fulvia as well. 

Fiat won't officially be drawn on the rumours out of its Turin headquarters over the weekend, but insiders close to the Italian car maker's boss Sergio Marchionne say there is a lot of enthusiasm surrounding the Fiat/Mazda co-operation, with one suggesting that the MX-5 platform would provide the perfect basis for a production version of the well received Lancia Fulvia concept first shown at the Frankfurt motor show back in 2003.

"The Fiat deal with Mazda opens up all sort of possibilities, and not only for the return of the Alfa Romeo Spider. We are looking at other aspects that may provide increased economies of scale, not only on a component sharing level but also in the area of production. Whether Lancia and a possible resurrection of the Fulvia is included in that is something I can not comment on at this time," a long time Fiat employee told TheAutoInsider.

Our take: Lancia's at a low ebb, but this is just what it needs to set it back on track. Imgaine: a 300bhp turbocharged 1.8-litre four-cylinder Multi Air engined powered Lancia Fulvia HF, complete with the superb retro design touches of the 2003 concept car, the sort of rear wheel drive handling traits that makes the Mazda MX-5 such a delight to drive and a six-speed double clutch gearbox to boot.


What if? Mini Zero Concept

They're not officially sanctioned sketches, but this is what former BMW Design Works designer, Sonny Lin, reckons a future entry level Mini model could look like.

Updating the retro look of today's hardtop with a more contemporary design that retains all the traditional elements that made the original such a hit for over 40 years, the Mini Zero, as Lin has christianed his creation, is described as being longer than the official Rocketman concept but shorter than today's Cooper hardtop.

Our take: Just what Mini needs to fend off advances from cheap European hatchbacks like the Citroen C1, Toyota Aygo and 108. Go with it Munich . . . 

Like this: Mercedes-Benz 220 SE touring car

Who said the Germans don't understand fun? The guys and gals from Mercedes-Benz's Classic division clearly do, as evidenced by this: a 220 SE from 1964 that has been constructed to contest classic car events. Looks like it'd be a handful, but we'd be willing to give it a go. Look for the 220 SE racer at this year's Goodwood Festival Of Speed beginning 28 June and running thu 1 July.

BMW Z4 Zagato Coupe

BMW's design team has co-operated with famed Italian design house Zagato on a new aluminium bodied coupe version of the second-generation Z4. Revealed at the Concourse Villa d'Este held on the shores of Lake Como in Italy, the new car is described as a one-off but behind the scenes Zagato is pushing to pursuade BMW to allow it to place the so-called Z4 Zagato coupe into low volume assembly. As it is based on standard Z4sDrive35iS underpinnings, it would be a relatively straightforward exercise. Even so, our sources suggest the new car would likely cost up to double that of its roadster sibling. BMW is apparently talking with Zagato about lending help with body construction, with insiders suggesting it could end up being clothed in carbon fibre panels rather than the aluminium panels of the car seen here. Power comes from a reworked version of BMW's turbocharged 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder N55 engine with a claimed 400bhp - up by 60bhp on the standard Z4sDriveiS roadster.

Lamborghini Urus pictures leak to the internet

Sant'Agata, Italy: Well, this isn't going to please Lamborghini boss, Stephan Winkelmann, at all. Once again that notorious Czech website has leaked pictures onto the internet, this time of the Lamborghini Urus which was supposed to be unveiled to the public on Monday 23 April. So the suspense is gone. This is the same mob that leaked pictures of the Audi A3 early. Looks mean, sort of a cross between a Lamborghini Aventador and BMW X6. Nice! More details as they come to hand . . .

BYD reveals new Qin hybrid

Shenzhen, China: BYD has revealed its produciton car star for the upcoming Beijing motor show: the Qin. The Chevrolet Volt rivalling sedan can operate in either full electric or petrol-electric hybrid modes. The successor to the F3DM, the Qin uses BYD's latest lithium-ion battery technology, with the company's so-called LiFePo4 technology. Before it got into the car making business, BYD rose to prominence as the supplier of batteries to Nokia and other mobile phone manufacturers. BYD is expected to use the Qin to push into established world car markets, including North America.

Key facts
Engine:Turbocharged 1.5-litre four-cylinder gasoline with electric assist
Gasoline engine power : n/a
Electric engine power: n/a
0-62mph (100km/h):  6.9sec
Top speed: 115mph (185km/h)
Battery: Lithium ion
Battery capacity: 10kWh
Electric range: 31 miles (50km)

BMW M135i to get four-wheel drive option

Munich, Germany: The boss of BMW's M division skunk works, Friedrich Nitschke, has confirmed media reports suggesting the company's upcoming M135i will be sold with a four wheel drive option in selected markets. The Subaru Impreza WRX STi chasing hyper hatch, which will come with standard rear-wheel drive when it goes on sale later this year, is powered by BMW's N55 engine - a turbocharged 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder gasoline unit that is said to pump out around 330bhp and 332lb ft of torque. Bring it on Friedrich . . . bring it on . . .

Toyota bringing new concept car to Beijing

Nagoya, Japan: Toyota has issued a picture of a new concept car it plans to unveil at the Beijing motor show next week. The Japanese car maker hasn't provided any firm details but going on the blue tinge of light around the concept's badge and within its headlamps, the pictures suggest it will be a hybrid or electric vehicle of some kind.


JAC reveals new S-II SUV

Hefei, China: Jianghuai Auto Corporation (JAC) has revealed its new S-II SUV prior to the Beijing motor show. As hinted to it earlier sketches and scoop photographs, the new five-seater leans heavily on the popular Hyundai ix35 for stylistic inspiration. Still, not a bad effort overall - contemporary and, provided the price is right, realistically marketable in established markets. Details below. More pictures as they become available.

Key facts
JAC S-11
Length: 4430mm
Width: 1840mm
Height: 1660mm
Wheelbase: 2640mm
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder gasoline
Power : 120kW
Torque: 235NM
Gearbox: six-speed manual (six-speed dual clutch optional)
0-62mph (100km/h):  n/a
Top speed: 112mph (180km/h)
Consumption: 25.6mpg (9.2L/100km)

Zhongxing Urban Ark sketched

Baoding, China: Zhongxing, a fledgling commercial vehicle car maker, is set to reveal a new Kia Soul style crossover at the Beijing motor show. But it's not Zhongxing's new model that is grabbing headlines, it is its name: Urban Ark. Well, that's it's working name apparantly. We won't know if the new four door hatchback will retain it until it rolls onto Zhongxing's stand on 23 April. Zhongxing recently rose to prominence as its pick-ups trucks were used in the 2011 Libyan cival war by both the rebel and defeated government forces. (Hat tip to our friends at

Lamborghini promises "revolutionary presence" in Beijing

Sant'Agata, Italy: Lamborghini has  confirmed rumours it will show a concept at the upcoming Beijing motor show with the issuing of an invitation that not only reveals an outline of what resembles a sporting SUV in the mould of the BMW X6 but promises what the Italian supercar maker describes as a "revolutionary presence". Earlier today, reports appeared on Chinese websites suggesting the Lamborghini concept will be called Urus. The unveiling of the new car is planned for 12.30pm 23 April local time. The suspense is killing us . . .  

Mercedes-Benz G63 and G65 AMG revealed

Mercedes-Benz's new G63 AMG
Stuttgart, Germany: To hell with political correctness, eco touting figures and all that usual boring stuff car maker's pedal these days.

That's the message being sent out by Mercedes-Benz, whose increasingly active AMG performance car division has somehow managed to shoehorne the Maybach limousine's whopping great twin-turbocharged 6.0-litre V12 gasoline engine into the square shaped engine bay the 33 year old G-class to create this retro-styled military grade monster the get-outta-my-way-I'm-coming-through-right-now G65 AMG.

Subtle it ain't. But with 612bhp and an almost laughable 737lb ft of torque heading to all four wheels though a seven speed automati gearbox and three separate differentials that can be independently locked from the cabin, the G65 AMG should prove a capable desert stormer.
Mercedes-Benz claims its top-of-the-line G-class model will hit 62mph (100km/h) in 5.3sec and reach a top speed limited to 143mph (230km/h) top speed. Bring your fuel card, though. Combined average consumption on the European cycle is put at an old fashioned 13.8mpg (US), or 17.0L/100km in European currency. 

For those on a lesser budget, Mercedes-Benz has also announced the G63 AMG. It runs AMG's latest twin-turbocharged 5.5-litre V8 gasoline engine hooked up with a seven-speed automatic 'box complete with automatic stop/start and brake energy recuperation functions not found on the G63 AMG. The lesser of AMG's two new G-class models replaces the long running G55 AMG, whose supercharged 5.4-litre V8 gasoline engine has now finally ceased production.

 The G63 AMG, which retains the G55 AMG's distinctive side mounted exhausts, packs 544bhp and 561lb ft - enough to get it to 62mph (100km/h) in 5.4sec and to a top speed limited to, one might say, a slightly disappointing 131mph (210km/h). Predicatably it's not as thirsty as the G65 AMG, though,  returning 17.0mpg (US), or 13.8L/100km.   

Footnote: The first Mercedes-Benz G-wagon model ran a 2.0-litre four-cylinder gasoline engine delivering just 89bhp. Talk about aging with grace . . .

Lamborghini SUV concept to be called Urus?

Is that a Urus we see on
 the Lamborghini badge?

Sant'Agata, Italy: We can't confirm this just yet, but whispers out of China where the Beijing motor show is set to take place next week suggest the Lamborghini SUV concept, which is planned to be unveiled in the capital city of the People's Republic, will be called the Urus.

If Lamborghini tradition of naming new models after famous bulls is anything to go by, the name certainly fits.

The Urus or Aurochs as it was more commonly known was a wild bull which inhabited parts of Europe, Asia and North Africa up until the early 1600s. It is considered the ancestor of today's domestic cattle.

MG set to unwrap new SUV concept

MG is set to preview a new compact SUV at the Beijing motor show

Shanghai, China: MG, the famed British car maker owned by the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC), has officially announced it will unveil a new compact SUV concept at the Beijing motor show next week.

Called the Icon, the distinctive looking four door draws its stylistic inspiration from the 
legendary MGB GT. We're still waiting for MG to funish us with detailled information but SAIC sources have told TheAutoInsider the Icon is based on the same front wheel drive underpinnings as the new MG 5.

Power is set to hail from a new in-house developed turbocharged 1.5-litre four-cylinder gasoline engine, with drive sent through a six-speed dual clutch gearbox that has also been engineered by SAIC. Expect a less flamboyant version of the Icon to see production within the next two years. 

Audi adds spice to Q3 with new RS concept

Audi's quattro division has given the Q3 an extra dash of herbs
with the unveiling of the RS Q3 concept (click to enlarge)

Ingolstadt, Germany: Audi has provided the best hint yet that it will introduce a performance orientated variant of its year old Q3, with the unveiling of this new concept called the RS Q3. Developed by the German car maker's quattro skunk works - the same division responsible for all of Audi's various RS models - the cooking Q3 gets a 360bhp version of the TT RS's turbocharged 2.5-litre five pot engine shoe horned transversely under its hood. With drive running permanently to all four wheels via a seven speed dual clutch 'box, the RS Q3 is claimed to hit 62mph (100km/h) in 5.2sec and top out at 164mph (265km/h). Chassis tweaks include a one inch (25mm) reduction in ride height along with a firmer set of springs and dampers. Pumped up wheel arch flares house big 8.5 x 20-inch alloy wheels fitted with 255/30 profile rubber. We're told a production version of the RS Q3, with perhaps a little less than the 360bhp of the concept, could be in European showrooms by late 2013.  

Audi buys Ducati

Ingolstadt, Germany: Audi has purchased  Italian motorcycle maker Ducati for $1.12 billion. Ducati thus becomes the twelve brand to fall under the umbrella of the Volkswagen Group and the third under direct control of Audi after Italian supercar maker Lamborghini and struggling Spanish car maker Seat.

Mercedes-Benz Concept Sport Coupe previews new CLA - the baby CLS

Mercedes-Benz's stylish new Concept Style Coupe

Stuttgart, Germany: Mercedes-Benz has revealed its new Concept Sport Coupe ahead of the funky new four door's first public airing at the Beijing motor show early next week.

Forget the coupe name. The Concept Sport Coupe is actually a sedan with four conventionally front hinged doors and a trunk. The production version, which is due out early next year, is set to be called the CLA.